Sponsorship Disclosure: A huge thanks to Kaiku and Visa Clear Prepaid for working with us to bring you this content.
I enjoy small, everyday luxuries. I don’t mind treating myself to a latte, grabbing dinner out with friends or picking up a bottle of wine after work. But too many of those indulgences would leave me broke. So each month, I try to stick to a budget with strict limits for hitting the grocery store and just-for-fun expenses like coffee shops, restaurants and shopping.
But there’s a problem with my budgeting plan: I secretly know nothing will happen if I don’t stick to it, and there’s no real incentive to keep me honest.
Even if I only go a few dollars over each category’s budget each month, those expenses add up. And I know if I had budgeted better, all those pick-me-up lattes or fancy cheeses could have gone towards something much more luxurious — like a plane ticket to somewhere exotic.
Why Budgeting is a Challenge for Me
I use an online money manager to set my budgets and track spending, but there are no real repercussions for going over my limits. Even though the service warns me if I’m getting close to blowing my budget, I get a clean slate on the first of every month. I always have my debit and credit cards on hand, making it super easy to pick up a coffee, eat lunch out with coworkers or grab a few bags of chips at the corner store.
I’ve considered the cash diet — taking out a certain amount every single month and spending only what’s in my wallet — but I’ve never been a huge fan of carrying cash. Since those purchases don’t show up on my statements or in my money management service, cash feels like toy money. I can spend it however I want, then I’ll forget about it minutes later. This frivolous approach certainly isn’t helpful when trying to stick to a budget.
I’d like to set a firm budget for my groceries and treat yo’ self expenses, track my spending and cut myself off when I’ve hit my limit. Enter prepaid debit cards.
How Prepaid Cards Help You Stick to Your Budget
If you want to limit yourself to spending a certain amount in a certain category each month — say, $150 on groceries — you can simply load up that exact amount on a prepaid debit card. Swipe your card at the grocery store just as you would a debit or credit card.
But unlike your credit or debit card, you won’t be able to spend more than you have. When your balance hits zero, you can’t use credit or overdraft protection. You’ve only got whatever you’ve loaded onto the card for the month, which might make you think twice about tossing something extra into your cart you don’t really need!
Which Prepaid Card Should You Choose?
When I started looking for a prepaid card, I was surprised at all the options — and each card has different features and limitations.
I was excited to learn about the Visa Clear Prepaid program; cards that qualify for the program are required to clearly communicate their monthly fee plans, so you’ll know exactly what you’re signing on to pay. The Kaiku® Visa® Prepaid Card has a flat monthly $3 fee that covers a few cool features:
- No overdrafts permitted, so you can’t incur extra fees or spend more money than you have
- Deposit or share insurance to protect your funds, e.g. FDIC/NCUSIF
- Visa’s Zero Liability fraud protection*, which provides added security if your card is lost or stolen
Plus, you’ll never get hit with sneaky fees. The Kaiku® Visa® Prepaid Card has:
- No fees for declined transactions
- No fees for cash back
- No fees for customer service
- No fees for in-network ATM withdrawals or balance inquiries
- No fees to close your card
- No fees for replacing a lost card
The main fees include the $3 monthly fee, which you can avoid by loading $750 per month onto the card (like direct deposit), and $1.45 for out-of-network ATMs. For more information on fees, you can visit https://kaiku.com/fees.
You can use the card to make one-time or recurring bill payments, get cash at more than 55,000 AllPoint ATMs and even transfer money to friends who have the Kaiku® Visa® Prepaid Card. You can use the card anywhere Visa debit cards are accepted: supermarkets, clothing stores, drug stores, restaurants, online retailers and gas stations, just to name a few.
Join The Penny Hoarder 21-Day Challenge
To test this prepaid card as a budgeting tool, we’ve partnered with the Visa Clear Prepaid program to launch a 21-day challenge for the Penny Hoarder community. For 21 days, I’ll be using the Kaiku® Visa® Prepaid Card for all my grocery purchases.
Since I tend to overbuy at the grocery store, I plan to use my card to purchase only the groceries I need. Instead of ending up with more food than I can possibly eat, I’ll stick to the necessities — and stick to my grocery budget. I hope that limiting myself to only using my prepaid card will help me be more mindful of my spending.
Ready to get serious about budgeting for one of your everyday expenses? Join me in the 21-Day Challenge! Here’s how to get the card and get started.
How to Get Your Kaiku® Visa® Prepaid Card
Signing up for your Kaiku® Visa® Prepaid Card is super simple. Go to the Kaiku website, click Get Card, fill out some basic info and they’ll mail you a card. (Bonus! You get to pick from a few fun colors.) It will arrive seven to 10 days later, and you can call or go online to activate it.
Then, it’s time to decide how much money you’re going to load — I chose to add $150, my grocery budget for the next 21 days. You’ve got a few options to put your money on the card:
- Take cash to a Visa Readylink location. This is the fastest option because you’ll be able to use the card instantly, but vendors will charge a fee of $2.95 to $4.95 to load your card.
- Deposit a check onto your card by snapping a picture with the Kaiku app. If you’re not in a hurry, wait up to 10 days for the deposit to go through and you won’t have to pay a fee. Or, if you want instant access to your funds, you can opt to pay approximately 4% of the value of the check, with a minimum fee of $5.
- Sync your bank account and transfer funds straight onto your card. These transfers take two to four business days. Kaiku won’t charge you a fee, but your bank might.
My Kaiku® Visa® Prepaid Card is on its way and I’m looking forward to getting my grocery budget back on track! Will you join me in the 21-Day Challenge?
Your Turn: How would you use a prepaid card to help you stick to your budget?
* Visa’s Zero Liability Policy covers U.S.-issued cards and does not apply to certain commercial card transactions, or any transactions not processed by Visa. You must notify your financial institution immediately of any unauthorized use. For specific restrictions, limitations and other details, please consult your issuer.
Betsy Mikel is a Chicago-based freelance copywriter. She loves biking all over every city she visits to find its best taqueria.